Poor balance, bilateral upper limb phocomelia, no previous exercise: a challenging combination for fall prevention in a middle-aged thalidomide survivor
Run a pilot focussed support programme for a middle-aged thalidomide survivor with bilateral radial club hands and increasing balance issues who had never previously exercised.
Poor balance and falls pose substantial risks to health and wellbeing. These risks are increased for thalidomide survivors with arm defects who can’t protect themselves in a fall. Improving strength and balance is key to reducing these risks.
This pilot programme aimed to show the health and wellbeing benefits that could be achieved by the patient through physiotherapy and exercise.
What was found
The physiotherapist’s initial assessment identified areas of weakness, poor movement and causes of pain, including issues affecting gait.
Once the gait was corrected with an insole the patient received a programme of physiotherapy treatments over a period of 7 months, including an exercise routine that they could do at home without equipment.
The patient was encouraged to establish their own exercise regime for the future, once the physiotherapy ended.
As a result of this programme the patient has gained strength, posture and movement have improved and pain has reduced significantly. This has given the patient increased confidence to go out and about.
The learning points were:
- Physiotherapy assessment prior to exercise in later life is an important consideration, particularly in those with physical limitations and uneven gait.
- Helping find a suitable exercise for individuals who have never exercised before middle age that is fun, sociable and easy for them to take part in, encourages routine and the continuance of the exercise in the future.
- The cost of accessing suitable activity that meets their physical and social needs can be prohibitive to most people living with a disability.
- Careful consideration should be given by Falls services before limiting their services and their information to a specific age range.
The full published article can be viewed here: